Ahhh yes, the Chang Li mini electric truck is insane….and we are here for it!
As electric vehicles progressively become the industry standard rather than an outlier, imagine a world where you could purchase a small electric truck for just a couple of thousand dollars. For the budget EV truck dreamer, that day has finally arrived.
Chang Li’s mini electric truck—available online through Alibaba—costs just $1,800 and offers an oddly charming, though lower-power alternative to a traditional gas-powered truck.
Let’s be honest, when comparing this to a $100K Rivian R1T, it’s quite a bargain…..well, ok, they are not even in the same planet as far as quality, performance and support, but you get my point.
The only downsides are that the vehicle is not street-legal in the United States and buyers must pay another couple of thousand dollars to have it shipped overseas.
So, is the Chang Li mini electric truck a legitimate alternative to gas-powered automobiles or is it just an oversized children’s toy?
Let’s take a minute to review this oddity, discuss its strengths and weaknesses, and finally conclude whether the Alibaba mini truck is worth purchasing.
The Chang Li Mini Electric Truck at a Glance
In theory, the idea of a mini electric truck may seem like a good idea but in practice, the Chang Li creation is at best an oddity and at worst impractical. From a purely aesthetic perspective, it’s about two-thirds the size of a gas-powered truck but features surprisingly advanced accessories, including:
- A backup camera
- Steel cargo and bed racks
- A built-in charger
- Air conditioning
- Bluetooth connectivity
The body is constructed from solid metal panels, which definitely sets it apart from a golf cart or children’s toy car, but the overall design is somehow cartoonish due to its smaller size and low profile.
While this may sound like a downside, it’s somehow charming and adds to the novelty of a fully electric mini truck.
Performance and Specs
Don’t expect to go very far in the Chang Li mini electric truck. The base model runs off of a 3 kWh lithium-ion battery, which can reach top speeds of around 25 mph.
If this seems weak compared to other electric vehicles, hopeful buyers can upgrade the battery to a bulkier 6 kWh option at an added cost.
Regardless of the battery size, though, the Chang Li maxes out at around 35 mph, with a maximum driving range of 65 miles.
This isn’t much of a problem though considering that the vehicle is not street legal in the United States. Instead, it’s best used around a farm or on private property to haul around equipment across short distances.
The engine is powerful enough to load the bed with building materials, dirt, gravel, and other farm equipment and, thanks to a hydraulic dump bed function, you can easily use this little truck to transport loads of up 880lbs from point A to point B.
Added Costs and Considerations
As we’ve already hinted, the Changi Li EV truck’s $1,800 price tag is a little misleading.
Unless you’re willing to purchase a basic frame with limited power output, no air conditioning, and few added accessories, you’ll end up spending around $1,500 more for add-ons and upgraded parts.
These added fees do not even include the price of shipping the vehicle from China to the United States.
Alibaba currently lists larger options with a backseat for around $2,200 but the site is quick to point out that potential buyers must contact the manufacturer—Chang Li—for more information.
According to people familiar with the transaction, the purchasing process is pretty complicated and can take up to three months with shipping costs of up $3,000 plus another $2,000 for import taxes.
All-in-all, expect to spend around $8,000 to get the vehicle delivered to your front door. This begs the question of whether it’s financially worth it but, for the sheer novelty of owning a miniature Chinese electric truck, it’s certainly worth the story.
The Chang Li Mini Electric Truck’s Strengths and Weaknesses
Although it’s easy to point fingers at a comically small electric truck that maxes out at 35 mph, Alibaba’s affordable eco-friendly truck actually has a number of strengths that we would be remiss to ignore.
Below, we’ve detailed a list of both the strengths and weaknesses that make this unique vehicle a strong talking point:
- Utility: For its size, the Chang Li mini electric truck is actually quite useful. While it’s not designed for long-distance road trips, it’s a useful work tool that can carry almost a half-ton of equipment around your property. And, compared to spending upwards of $60,000 for a different EV truck, it’s hard to deny Chang Li’s utility.
- Quality Features: Although it’s only a little larger than a golf cart, the Chang Li mini electric truck offers all of the same features you’d find on a full-sized gas-powered vehicle. From Bluetooth radio to electric windows, seatbelts, and an air conditioner, the Chang Li vehicle combines all of the features you’d expect from a normal truck.
- Registrability: Many potential buyers hear that the Chang Li mini truck isn’t street legal and write it off as a waste but what they fail to release is that it is registrable as a neighborhood vehicle. This means that you can use it around your home, as long as you keep it off the main roadways.
- Possible Rust Concerns: Some buyers have noticed that the metal body shows signs of rust, even after first unboxing their vehicles. This indicates that the vehicle could potentially break down over time, costing the owner more in repairs.
- Added fees: Besides its low power and limited usability, it’s hard to deny that the hidden costs of purchasing a Chang Li mini electric truck are undoubtedly a major downside. What’s marketed as a $1,800 vehicle quickly ends up costing as much as a used gas-powered truck.
The Bottom Line
So, is the Chang Li electric mini truck a good purchase? It depends on your definition of “good.” From a utility standpoint, it’s hard to deny that this unique vehicle is a great tool for moving light equipment around your property.
At the same time, though, it’s important to remember that the Chang Li isn’t street-legal and cannot be used as a primary mode of transportation.